It’s early — May 21 is far, far away from any game that counts — and the Cardinals still have six OTAs and a full minicamp left just in the offseason, not to mention training camp. But coach Bruce Arians clearly was frustrated with his offense after Tuesday’s work. For an offensive coach, it probably isn’t surprising.
“I couldn’t ask for any more effort,” Arians said. “It’s just that right now, our defense is way outplaying our offense. The offense needs to pick it up. We are behind where I’d like to be right now.”
Arians said he can’t really judge the offensive linemen. But that will come. The skill position players, though, need to get better, Arians said.
“We’re just not picking it up fast enough, not picking it up the way I want to at all positions,” Arians said. “Normally for the defense it’s a little easier, to put in a defense than it is an offense and have some continuity.
“I don’t like mistakes and I really don’t like mental mistakes. Especially if you made the same one last week. Correct it and have it in the books right now. The receivers are not getting that done.”
Arians wasn’t the only one noticing the offensive struggles. Quarterback Carson Palmer agreed with Arians’ assessment.
“It’s kind of how it happens,” Palmer said. “But that’s the competitor in him. He and I are both (ticked) off about it. I’m (ticked) off about it too. That’s the competitive side. You want to win everything. Every third-and-8 you practice, and we had 12 of them today, you want to go 12-for-12 and that may not be a realistic situation but it is what it is. Throughout my career I have seen it, in OTAs, near the end, (the offense) starts to catch up and trade blow-for-blow. It’s still not acceptable (now.)”
– At the outset of the OTA, the Cardinals held a moment of silence/prayer for the victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer
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There’s never a good time to get injured, especially a serious injury. Undrafted rookie wide receiver Javone Lawson tore his Achilles tendon in a recent workout, and told The Daily Advertiser in Louisiana he will have surgery. That will lead to a roster move at some point. Lawson was a long shot to make the team, obviously, but you never want to see something like this occur. These days, guys usually don’t suffer those kinds of injuries in the offseason. They aren’t on the field much and contact is severely limited. That’s why you cringe when you hear a story like San Diego’s Melvin Ingram at this point of the summer.
You never want any injuries, but somehow there seems to be a sliding scale of how they are received: One suffered in the regular season you can reconcile better than one in the preseason, which is easier to deal with than a training camp practice, which at least happens when work ramps up compared to offseason work.
(And before anyone looks at me crossways for even speaking on the subject, no, I don’t believe in jinxing anything. A blog post about injuries isn’t going to cause anyone harm. Because I know someone was going to take me to task on that.)
I can think of a handful of practice injuries for the Cards over the years I’ve covered the team, but off the top of my head, I don’t recall any in the offseason. Practices in camp and in-season, yes. But nothing season-jeopardizing this time of year. Tight end Jeff King tore his quadriceps in May last offseason, but he was able to return early in training camp. Coaches (and the front office) hold their breath in the offseason for a couple of reasons: One, hoping with so much down time no player gets in off-the-field trouble. And two, hoping that when the guys are on the field or working out in some manner, they don’t get hurt. It’s why any little bump or bruise this time of year is consideration to have a guy stay off to the side and get better. No reason to push it. Not this far away from games.
UPDATE: The Cardinals waived-injured Lawson on Tuesday. They replaced him with UDFA WR Charles Hawkins, a small (5-8) speedster who played for running backs coach Stump Mitchell when Mitchell was coaching at Southern University.
Tags: Charles Hawkins, Javone Lawson, Jeff King, Melvin Ingram
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Back in February at the Scouting combine the idea was first floated of the NFL changing up its offseason schedule. Today it sounds like that’s a lot closer to happening. Adam Shefter first reported a 2014 draft that would take place in May. That really isn’t a shock. To move the TV-ratings-rich draft into the sweeps month of May makes sense. The report is that, come 2015, the new league year (i.e. free agency) would then start before the combine (with the combine getting moved into March). It makes sense — the NFLPA could gain by getting free agency sooner. Veteran movement would be going on for a couple of weeks before the rookies even have their workout-day-in-the-sun.
What does this mean, football-wise? Besides the shift in when fans will be consuming this stuff, it definitely will make it harder on rookies — or better for veterans, depending on how you look at it. Vets will in theory know their teams sooner, and more importantly, rookies will be drafted perhaps three weeks later than they are now and getting started with their teams late much later. Certainly, it can be overcome (and if you are a Stanford product, it actually can help.) It should be noted that NFL spokesman Greg Aiello cautioned that nothing has been done yet. I won’t be surprised if (when?) it does though, and the NFL will be spread out even further into the offseason.
– Linebacker Daryl Washington pleaded not guilty today on the two counts of aggravated assault stemming from a May 1 incident. His next court date is scheduled for July 3. Before you ask, nothing has been decided yet and nothing has changed for Washington in terms of football.
– If you missed the offseason TV special Flight Plan this weekend, you are in luck: All four parts can be seen right here.
Tags: Daryl Washington, draft, free agency, Greg Aiello
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It’s been clear from the day the Cardinals acquired Carson Palmer that Bruce Arians was high on his abilities — I mean, why wouldn’t he be? — but that was reiterated during an ESPN interview this weekend when Arians was talking about his veteran QB.
“What he did last year with the Raiders, in a crazy situation, I thought was very, very impressive,” Arians said.
Let’s recap what Palmer did: In 15 games, he threw for 4,018 yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, and completed 61 percent of his passes. The Raiders still went 4-12. There is a lot that goes into all that. Those statistics may not have come in a lot of victories, but they still are impressive — especially the TD-to-INT ratio for a player who was forced to throw a lot because the team was behind. His top wide receiver was Denairus Moore (don’t feel bad if you have not heard of him.) The top pass catcher was tight end Brandon Myers, who had 79 catches for 806 yards. The first thought when you look at his receiving corps is that it was impressive to reach 4,000 yards without a top go-to type of threat.
Does Palmer have better receivers in Arizona? Certainly. Larry Fitzgerald alone changes the equation, Andre Roberts was pretty good last year and as I have noted before, it looks like Michael Floyd has made a big leap — at least at this point in the offseason — from Year One to Year Two. The Cards have to show they have a decent tight end threat (this is a crucial year for Rob Housler; if he can’t break out now with this QB and this offensive scheme, he may never) but Palmer will help.
What does that mean for Palmer himself? Well, he’s playing in a much more difficult division than last season. He’ll have to up his game to match his numbers. But if he stays healthy — and assuming the offensive line makes strides forward, as everyone is expecting right now — that can happen. Regardless, look at the numbers last year from the Cards’ QBs, which were ugly to say the least: 3,383 yards, 11 TDs, 21 INT, 55 percent completions. It figures to be much, much better. That alone I’d think would give fans a certain modicum of relief.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Raiders, Rob Housler
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Yeremiah Bell has flown under the radar a bit since his arrival in Arizona. He signed a one-year contract for the veteran minimum, his signing was the only one not leaked early on a day when the Cards signed five and cut Kerry Rhodes. Now that he is on the field, though, it’s hard to miss Bell. He technically has been a free safety in his career, but to look at him certainly screams strong safety. Literally. Just look at those arms.
“I guess over the years, it’s just from lifting weights,” Bell said. He doesn’t mind talking about his physique but he clearly isn’t someone who is looking to brag. “Everyone always gets on me because my legs are small,” Bell added. “I was born with club feet, so it’s a little difficult for me to get my legs like my arms. I guess I just built over time. Everyone starting admiring them, so of course I started work them a little harder. It’s fun. Guys mess with me.”
That’s hard to believe. The Cardinals had another safety who treated his body as a temple — perhaps you remember Adrian Wilson? — and nobody was going to mess with him.
“When I was in Miami (with the Dolphins), the guys always used to get on me, saying I looked like a linebacker up top and a receiver down low,” Bell said, chuckling. “I told them it was good, because I’m from Kentucky. I asked them if they had ever seen a thoroughbred horse. A thoroughbred horse has little bitty legs and is big up top. I am a thoroughbred from Kentucky. That’s how I explain it to them.”
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Yeremiah Bell
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As I was walking out to take some pictures at today’s OTA with special teams work going on at the outset, I noticed Larry Fitzgerald spending some time with assistant head coach/offensive guru Tom Moore and snapped off a photo:
They spoke for about 10 minutes. That’s no surprise. Fitz is learning about this offense like anyone else. But what I have noticed is that it is Moore spending most of his time with the younger players. It was noted Tuesday that Bruce Arians is splitting the OTAs into two simultaneous practices, so that the vets can get in the reps they need but the rookies also get a chance to get more reps than they normally would. (That’s a benefit of having a big coaching staff.)
Everyone knows Arians is going to call plays. He’s the one running the offensive show with the vets. But then Moore, with his years of knowledge and ability to teach — that was made clear by Arians from the start — is on the second field, getting key points across to players who are just learning the NFL game. It’s a extra benefit with the way this staff is constructed. Will it speed up the learning process for the young guys on offense? That remains to be seen, but it makes sense. With a coach in Arians who likes to use young players, you can certainly see it working out that way.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Larry Fitzgerald, Tom Moore
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Trying to figure out the depth chart in the offseason is always a sketchy thing, especially early on in the process. What happens in May can impact where the team is in September, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate with the lineup.
A quick story (and those of you who remember back to 2004, this may ring a bell): In Denny Green’s first offseason after taking over the Cardinals, he came in and made a host of changes right away, which you would expect, one being benching long-time left tackle L.J. Shelton and taking guard Leonard Davis (the same Davis who would later become a Pro Bowl guard in Dallas) and putting him at left tackle because, as Green put it, you can’t take a lineman No. 2 in the draft and pay him left tackle money to be a guard. So they made him a tackle.
That wasn’t unexpected. But at the end of OTAs that summer (in those days, minicamp was first, before OTAs, whereas now minicamp is the last part of the offseason), Green made a big deal about his depth chart. The Cardinals called an impromptu press conference on the final OTA day (most media would not have attended). First, Green called his team together and made a point of announcing his starting lineup heading into training camp — remember, the vets were about to disperse until then. He then did the same in front of the media.
Most spots were as expected. Two moves caught the attention at that point. One was the naming of Quentin Harris as free safety instead of Dexter Jackson. Jackson was coming off a six-interception year in his first season as a Card, but he had some back issues and more importantly, he and Green didn’t see eye to eye at all. Jackson was gone before the season started (and with all due respect to Q, now the team’s director of pro scouting, he was mostly a place-holder, starting the first three games that year before being benched for Ifeanyi Ohalete.) The other big deal at the time was Green naming Emmitt Smith the starting running back, a surprise to everyone (including Emmitt) after Marcel Shipp — now interning as a Cards’ coach — had run first-string the entire offseason until that point.
One move that didn’t bring any attention. Pete Kendall was named starting center.
That was a big deal six weeks later, when Kendall — who again, hadn’t been on the field since that day Green named him a starter — was cut on report day for training camp. Green said it was because the Cards needed a change; It was likely because Green thought Kendall had said something to the NFLPA about breaking rules in OTAs, which led to a league punishment. Whatever the reason, it was a drastic upheaval. (Alex Stepanovich was not Pete Kendall.)
Now, Bruce Arians is not Denny Green. I wouldn’t expect anything like the Kendall situation. But things are in flux. Jonathan Cooper is running second string right now. But yes, I expect him to be the first-string left guard sooner rather than later. Will it be by minicamp? By the start of training camp? By mid-preseason? We’ll see. Is Daryl Washington running second string as a message or because they want Karlos Dansby ready for those first four games? We’ll see. The same goes for other spots (like cornerback. Or outside linebacker). There is a long way to go before September rolls around and games count. One thing to keep in mind: Arians has reiterated a couple of times that he sees “starters” in all his different packages, offense and defense. It gives you a sense of how he views the depth chart.
Tags: Daryl Washington, Dennis Green, Dexter Jackson, Emmitt Smith, Jonathan Cooper, Karlos Dansby, L.J. Shelton, Leonard Davis, Marcel Shipp, Pete Kendall, Quentin Harris
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So profootballfocus.com has a series they call “Secret Superstar” in which they try to highlight players who are under the radar or are poised for breakout seasons. This week, they named Cardinals right tackle Bobby Massie a Secret Superstar. You know who noticed? Bobby Massie.
“Oh yeah, I saw that,” Massie said.
Then again, he was also reading with a grain of salt.
“It doesn’t mean nothing to me, because the same people that wrote that were the same people that were talking bad about me (early last year),” Massie said.
There is no question Massie has rebounded from his rough rookie start. He was plugged in at right tackle from jump last season and for half-a-season, struggled mightily. It wasn’t hard to see, and PFF graded him among the worst in the league. Then, things changed for Massie. PFF noted that had Massie performed all season like he did in the final nine games, they would have graded him as the third-best offensive tackle — right or left — in the entire NFL. It’s that kind of performance that the Cardinals noticed, why he likely wouldn’t be moved inside to guard. Why when you already have a solid tackle?
“Last year was my rookie year,” Massie said. “I’m not using it as an excuse, but sometimes it takes some players longer to get adjusted than others. It took me eight or nine games to get everything down, and as Pro Football Focus said, I was one of the top three tackles in the league.”
(So clearly, Massie is reading what is being written.)
“I’m a lot more comfortable, even as I am learning this offense,” Massie said.
Massie will be the right tackle, barring something unforeseen. Levi Brown continues to be the left tackle option, with, by the start of the season, rookie Jonathan Cooper figuring to start at left guard next to center Lyle Sendlein and right guard Daryn Colledge (Right now, Chilo Rachal is holding down the first-strong LG spot). With Massie, the Cards would love to have a homegrown superstar on the offensive line, secret or not.
– Many have been asking, so here you go: Fan Fest 2013 will be held at University of Phoenix Stadium June 11. That’s a Tuesday during minicamp. Save the date. Further details TBA.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Chilo Rachal, Daryn Colledge, Fan Fest, Jonathan Cooper, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, offensive line, Pro Football Focus
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So, if a picture is worth 1,000 words, what is a video worth?
In the case of Patrick Peterson’s beautiful one-handed interception Tuesday, well, you can see for yourself. Peterson still is a work in progress as a cornerback, but you understand with ability like that why he’s already got a a Pro Bowl as a corner under his belt.
Tags: Patrick Peterson
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The Cardinals began OTAs today and coach Bruce Arians tried something new with his 90-man roster: A dual practice. For a good chunk of the time on the field, the main first- and second-units worked on the front field, while the younger players — including almost every rookie — went to the second field with a mirror type of workout.
“We wanted to make sure we maximized the opportunities our rookies got, to get repetitions,” Arians said. “You can’t find a diamond in the rough if he’s standing on the sideline watching. You can find one if he’s out there working. That’s our goal. Get every single guy here an opportunity to make the ballclub.”
Arians said he’s never seen it done in his time in the NFL. Usually there aren’t enough players. “Our offensive tackles got a good workout,” Arians said. “There’s only four of them.” (That’s Nate Potter, Bobby Massie, Jamaal Johnson-Webb and Paul Fanaika today. Levi Brown was limited in his rehab and UDFA Joe Caprioglio isn’t here yet because Colorado State hasn’t finished up the spring semester.)
– Arians noted the full participation and thanked his players for the voluntary work. That included Daryl Washington (who has been here the whole time, not that it is new). Washington did address the media. Here is the story right here.
– Karlos Dansby was running with the first unit with Jasper Brinkley at inside linebacker. Washington was with Kevin Minter with the second unit. That was tough not to notice. We’ll see how it progresses as we go. Lorenzo Alexander and Sam Acho are working as the first-unit outside linebackers. Jerraud Powers continues to work first unit at cornerback with Patrick Peterson.
– Jonathan Cooper was running second-team left guard behind Chilo Rachal. All the other draftees — save for Ryan Swope, who was pulled up after LaRon Byrd had a neck spasm — were working in the second practice.
– It was weird seeing Dansby wearing No. 55. It was more weird seeing him in Miami Dolphin blue cleats. I’m sure that’ll be fixed soon. “I told him he could have my red shoes tomorrow,” Arians said. “He looked good. He looked spry.”
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Chilo Rachal, Daryl Washington, Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Jasper Brinkley, Jerraud Powers, Joe Caprioglio, Jonathan Cooper, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter, Levi Brown, Nate Potter, OTAs, Paul Fanaika, Ryan Swope
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